Heat and humidity provided plenty to deal with Thursday, when two cross-country races drew thousands of runners to southeastern Minnesota.
Four runners were taken to a hospital from the Bill Glomski Invitational in Stewartville and at least 11 girls were treated after their 5,000-meter race, emergency medical technicians told KAAL-TV of Austin. A scheduled boys' race was not completed. The girls' race involved 16 teams and more than 120 runners.
The racing crowd was much larger but the problems fewer at the St. Olaf Showcase in Northfield, where 1,800 runners competed in four races. Erica Maker, the St. Olaf women's cross-country coach and race organizer, said she knew of two runners who dealt with heat-related issues that caused their parents to seek hospital treatment. Maker said their symptoms were not severe.
"The heat was definitely a concern," she said. "We kept a close eye on it and assessed it after every race. Our trainers felt good about it. We had 1,800 runners through and no serious problems.
"Whenever there is heat there is concern. They're young. They don't always hydrate well. As a staff we assess the situation and make sure it's safe."
Maker said her staff was monitoring the wet bulb globe temperature, which takes into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover. It's used by the NCAA to determine when it's safe to compete. "We can assess what it's really like outside," she said.
The Minnesota State High School League also uses the wet bulb globe temperature in its recommendations for dealing with heat and humidity and has guidelines to follow that vary depending on the results. The league also grants both race officials and officials of the host school the power to call off racing.
"You just have to be as prepared as you can and watch the conditions," Maker said. "We felt really good about the staff we had on hand and how we handled the heat."